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Meowton food dispenser

Edwin Eefting edited this page Aug 12, 2020 · 19 revisions

Introduction

The food dispenser can dispense small amounts of food.

So far i only tested it with my specific brand of cat food, so i don't know how well it works with larger or smaller food. I tried to leave enough margin as possible so i hope its fine.

The size of the food i'm using:

Differences compared to most other printable dispensers out there:

  • Easy to print
  • Easy to assemble
  • Only one simple servo needed
  • Does not jam or crush food
  • Does not make loud scary noises.
  • Reliable
  • Hard to cheat with by cat. (needs more testing, but works for my cats :P )

This part actually took the most time to develop, test and refine. There where many redesigns.

Requirements

3D printed parts

You can find them at either of these sites:

Usually you would print the silo yourself. (Its possible to use an existing transparant jar, but it has to fit exactly. The jar I used is pretty obscure, i'll try to find something more common and standard and adjust the design.)

If you use translucent PLA or PETG, you can also see the food.

This part was designed to be easy printable without supports.

Feel free to improve the design in Fusion 360 and share it: https://a360.co/2U9I4nc

Electronics

You only need one continuous rotation servo, the MG995. Make sure its 360 degrees continuous rotation, and not a normal servo!

You can find it here:

Its cheap, works well and is simple to use without any extra driver boards.

Assembly

Assembly is pretty simple: Start at the bottom and work your way up.

This part was designed to be assembled with minimal effort and tools.

This is an exploded view WITHOUT the silo (the gray part is low and allows a for another silo to be fitted):

In the next steps we will use the version WITH silo, since thats what most people will use.

The guide below was made with version 95, I already made some adjustments and improvements.

1. Mount the servo onto the lower part.

Make sure the servo is oriented correctly and guide the cable through the bracket.

Gently push the servo in. Use your other hand to slightly pull the plastic bracket at the right side out of the way. Do not bend the brackets too much or they will break!

If everything is fine it should look like this:

2. Add the silo

Now add the silo and make sure the hole will be aligned properly.

You should be able to twist and turn it in, this is how it looks when you're just starting:

Make sure it is properly aligned with the food-hole:

When you're done it should look like this:

If it doenst fit, you probably didn't remove the enough of the brim?

3. Add the rotor

Currently there is one with 4 'blades'. I'm also experimenting with 8 blades to see if that improvers food consistency.

4. Add the stator

Add the stator on top of the rotor:

This part you should be able to turn and twist in. The stator has 4 clips and the silo has four slides they fit in.

Make sure it also aligns with the food-hole.

5. Optional: Add the food divider.

Note: Its useless, it doesnt prevent food builtup. Maybe if you scale the whole fooddispenser up, so will leave it for now.

You have to glue in this part. It's not critical, but it helps to prevent food buildup on the stator plate.

(Picture shows an older version that doesn't fit exactly.)

6. Done

Add the lid and you're done:

Potential issues/improvements

These are some problems i can think of, some didn't happen to me yet, but can be an issue for other people.

  • A determined cat can easily remove the lid, mine didn't yet, but we should add some kind of bajonet fitting for that. Update: I changed the lid, its in the fusion link, now it fits much tighter.
  • If the cat hugs the silo, it will kind of move and dispense a few food pellets. I solved it by glueing the silo, but now i cant reach the motor anymore. (superglue works very well) The silo should fit more tightly and/or have some kind of bajonet system.
  • Can a get put is paw deep enough in the food slope? I dont think so but mine never even tried.